Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 31 - Value Eating on 02/22/2010

Horrah for another dinner party! What can be better than dinner with friends??

Brunch was the last piece of cake and another cappuccino… 1.55$

Now that the cake is finished, I am looking forward to having something else to start the day with … living alone and hence cooking for one person only (meaning that one cake lasts basically two weeks… yikes…) is really not the biggest driver to spend extended playtime in the kitchen. It is hard to cook from scratch every day, needing a variety of ingredients, spices etc to be able to create different dishes day by day. And when you are living by yourself, it might take a while to finish a 4lb bag of flour. So, to all you none cooks out there, I understand where you are coming from, but I urge you nevertheless to try. The best way is to cook a little more and freeze meal size portions for those crazy days in which you are just too busy to think about cooking or have had no time to do your groceries.

Or: throw a dinner party! It does not have to be a fancy one. Just invite some friends over to share the pleasures of a home cooked meal. Which was what I did today.

Funnily enough, no matter in which country I am, people ask me to cook Sauerkraut.
Now, not that we Germans eat Sauerkraut every day. Very far from it. Rather the opposite, as a good Sauerkraut takes a lot of time to prepare. Truly not an option for a last minute dish. So, here I was again, cooking Sauerkraut (for those interested, recipe below!). Luckily I live in Chicago with an abundance of German heritage food places, so I bought a smoked pork loin, which was totally delicious, at Gene’s on Lincoln Avenue. As a side I prepared bohemian dumplings (which – as one of my guests rightly said- look like breaded baked potatoes: they are fairly long and then served sliced up). For dessert it was Apfelstrudel with Vanilla cream. As always, I had prepared more that was eaten (I wonder, is it me or my dinner guests?), so all food expenses can pretty much be divided by 8 servings:
2 large jars of imported Sauerkraut (5.78$), 1.5 onions (0.75c), potato (0.46c), 1.5 apples (1$), olive oil (25c), Bay leaves (70c). Smoked pork loin (11.71$). For the dumplings: a day old baguette (1$), 2 tbsp butter (60c), 2 eggs (67c), 1 cup whole wheat flour (30c). For the dessert: flour (30c), cooking oil (25c), 4 apples (2$), ¼ cup sugar (40c,) raisins (60c) and almonds (25c). For the vanilla sauce: flour (5c), 2 cups milk (1$), 3 egg yolks (50c), sugar (40c). = 3.30 for entrée’ and dessert! And except for the Sauerkraut, all ingredients were organic or at least artisan prepared (in the case of the pork)

Total Food Cost of Today: 4.85$

For those of you interested in the secret of good sauerkraut:

1 tbsp. of cooking oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1.5 sour apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 bay leaves
1 medium size potato, shredded
1 jar of Sauerkraut (fermented white cabbage)

1) sautee a finely chopped onion, 2) add the apples cut into small cubes, 3) add a couple of bay leaves, 4) add large jar of Sauerkraut (attention: white cabbage will not do, you need Sauerkraut – the fermented fare!), 5) shred one potato into the Sauerkraut. 6) cook over a low flame for at least two hours, the longer the better. All of that best do a day before you are planning to serve your sauerkraut. 7) 20 min before dinner, slowly reheat the sauerkraut with the smoked pork loin nestled in the kraut – that way the sauerkraut will take on some of the meaty flavor.
Best served with dumplings, cause they can nicely absorb the kraut’s liquid.

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